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Employment Support Allowance

What is Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)?

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is paid to people whose ability to work is limited by ill health or disability.
Claimants are then divided into two groups - the ‘support group’ and the ‘work related activity group’. The group you in determines:

  • the amount of ESA you receive
  • the responsibilities you need to meet in order to keep receiving the benefit.

For further information on who qualifies for ESA and how much you receive download our ESA factsheet [PDF].

How to claim ESA

What happens after you claim

Assessment phase

The assessment phase takes place over 13 weeks during which time you will undergo an assessment carried out by a healthcare professional. There are several tests during the assessment:

  • Limited capability for work test - this decides whether or not you remain on ESA.
  • Limited capability for work related activity test - this decides whether you have a ‘limited capability for work related activity’ and is used to determine whether you are placed in the support group of claimants or the work related activity group.

The tests have set capability 'descriptors' that are used to make the decisions. You can download these below:

The assessment is a complicated area. Our ESA factsheet [PDF] describes the tests in more detail.

Getting help with filling in the application form

If you need help completing the form or with any aspect of your claim then visit our Benefits advice sessions page to find local groups who can help.

How do I appeal against a decision about my ESA?

Our Appealing your ESA decision factsheet [PDF] gives further advice if your claim is turned down or there is a problem with your claim.

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